Dependence and transposition: Orientalist representations of the Arabs in modern Greek culture

Alexander Kazamias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article analyses Greek orientalism towards the Arabs from the end of the eighteenth to the late twentieth century. It examines an extensive body of texts, beginning with Adamantios Korais’ rallying call for Bonaparte’s invasion of Egypt and ending with the post-Suez attacks on Nasser’s anti-colonial policies by leading post-war Greek writers. The analysis approaches the representations of the Arabs as a branch of a wider Greek orientalist discourse that, for the most part, has focused historically on the Turks. In so doing, it conceptualizes Greek orientalism as partly a ‘borrowed construction’, internalized in Greek discourse from European colonial ideology, and partly as an articulation of what Edward Said has called an imperial ‘structure of feeling’, which in the case of Greece emanates from the irredentist/neo-Byzantine expansionist vision of Megali Idea. The analysis deploys the concepts of ‘internalized’ and ‘transposed orientalism’ to denote a process whereby a particular culture, like that of modern Greece, which is itself the object of western orientalist depiction, first embraces this demeaning image of itself and then, in an attempt to mitigate it, projects it in upon other neighbouring cultures that are perceived to be inferior to or less ‘westernized’ than its own. Finally, the article examines the role of Egyptian-Greek writers in the construction of this discourse as cultural mediators who, in contrast to other Greek thinkers and artists, had a direct experience of interacting with modern Arab culture.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-184
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Greek Media & Culture
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2022


  • Arab world
  • cultural imperialism
  • Greek Enlightenment
  • Greek intellectual history
  • Greek romanticism
  • Greeks of Egypt
  • Megali Idea
  • orientalism


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